Zoox becomes fourth company to land driverless testing permit in California

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Zoox, the automated vehicle technology startup acquired by Amazon this year, has obtained a license from California regulators that will allow it to test self-driving vehicles on public roads. The permit is not for all public roads in the state, but it is still noteworthy, as the company can test its vehicles without a human safety operator behind the wheel. The California Department of Motor Vehicles, the agency that regulates automatic vehicle testing in the state, has issued a permit for a designated area of ​​Foster City in San Mateo County.

Mark Rosekind, the former director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration who is now Chief Safety Officer at Zoox, called it another important milestone in the company’s “efforts to deliver safe, fully electric and affordable autonomous mobility to drivers in California. . “

Zoox has taken the “all of the above” approach to autonomous vehicles. The company aims to build a purpose-built electric vehicle, develop, test and validate the automated vehicle technology and operate a robotic taxi fleet. That mission appears to be intact. Amazon has said that Zoox will remain a stand-alone company.

Zoox has been licensed to test autonomous vehicles with safety drivers since 2016. With this new permit, the company will be able to test two autonomous vehicles without a driver behind the wheel on select streets near Foster City headquarters. The vehicles are approved to run in fine weather conditions, including light rain or fog, on streets with a speed limit of no more than 45 mph, the agency said Friday.

Although dozens of companies – 60 in total – have active permits to test autonomous vehicles with a safety driver, it is much less common to obtain permits for self-driving vehicles. Only AutoX, Nuro and Waymo are licensed without a driver. Companies that receive these driverless authorizations must provide proof of insurance or a $ 5 million bond and follow several other rules, such as training third-party operators in the technology.

Zoox also has a permit, which it received in late 2018, to transport people in its automated vehicles on public roads. These authorization permits come under the jurisdiction of the California Public Utilities Commission and have a variety of other requirements and rules. With this permit, which allows Zoox to participate in the pilot of the state’s Autonomous Vehicle Passenger Service, companies are not allowed to charge for rides.

Zoox has also tested its technology in Las Vegas, which is considered another target market. Zoox received permission from the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles to drive autonomously on state highways in early 2019. The startup was in the process of mapping and testing new routes in the greater Las Vegas region last year.

This story originally appeared on TechCrunch.

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